Not quite sure what to expect when I signed up for a hayride (other than coming home with hay in my shoes and car) on one of Chester County's Town Tours and Village Walks in Nantmeal Twp., PA last night.
As I learned on the hayride, the Potts family were key to this area (i.e. nearby Pottstown). The Potts' built Isabella Furnace, a cold blast charcoal iron furnace named for Isabella Potts, wife of one of the partners. Isabella was the last iron furnace to be built in the county, in 1835, and was operated by members of the Potts family and their partners until 1855, when they lost control of it in a bankruptcy. It returned to the family in 1881, when it was purchased by Col. Joseph Potts (nephew of Isabella), who modernized it. The furnace, the last to operate in Chester County, went out of blast in 1894. We rode by it on our hayride, but it was sheltered by trees. I am sure I was there years ago on a house tour and that the bottom floor was a residence.
So on to the Langoma story. John D. Harrison had 2 sons and his business associate, Col. Joseph Potts had 2 daughters. Being skilled in mergers, the men had their sons and daughters marry and move into a home Potts was building. But not just any home--one designed by Theopolis P. Chandler, not only a famous Philadelphia architect, but also a member of the upper crust of Main Line society.
Langoma, as it was called (said to be an Indian name for family) was designed as a duplex house, with one side the exact mirror image of the other, separated by a several-foot-thick wall. Each wing would house one of the sisters and her husband and would be complete with the exact same number of fireplaces, all made of alabaster, white and pink marble and onyx, imported from Italy.
The home is now being used as a retreat center by the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence.
Touring Chester County with your Older and Historic Homes Resource, Carolyn Roland.